Silver Bells in the City
Lansing, November 21
The Capital City glows with millions of lights for the 30th anniversary of Silver Bells in the City. The annual event brings together family and friends from all over Michigan to celebrate the holiday season with an Electric Light Parade, Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting and fireworks over the Capitol dome (517/487-3322; www.silverbellsinthecity.org).
North Pole Express
Owosso, November 22–23, 29–30; December 5–7, 12–14, 19–21
Passengers travel through snow-globe-like scenery while sipping hot cocoa aboard the Pere Marquette 1225, the inspiration for the The Polar Express train. The historic diesel engine’s four-hour round-trip journey goes to the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas where visitors meet Santa and enjoy live entertainment, food and shopping (989/399-7589; www.michigansteamtrain.com).
America’s Thanksgiving Parade Presented by Art Van Furniture
Detroit, November 27
Festivities for the nation’s second largest Thanksgiving Day Parade begin early with pre-parade races. The “parade before the parade” begins at 7:30 a.m. when runners don costumes for the Fifth Third Bank Turkey Trot (10K), Strategic Staffing Solutions Stuffing Strut (5K) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Mashed Potato Mile. At 9:10 a.m., more than 2,000 clowns, 150 papier-mâché heads, and 60 floats, bands, equestrian groups and balloons travel more than two miles along Woodward Avenue. The parade is free, but seats in the grandstand require purchased tickets. After the parade, see the papier-mâché masks worn by the affectionately known Big Head Corps at The Parade Company; they’re on display year-round (313/923-7400; www.theparade.org).
Christmas at Crossroads Holiday Magic
Flint, November 28–December 30 (select days and weekends)
Costumed townspeople make vintage crafts and sell gifts in this turn-of-the-century village. The town is blanketed in lights, including the 145-year-old Horton-Colwell Opera House that hosts Christmas plays; opening night includes carolers and fireworks. Even the Huckleberry Railroad is lined with lights; ride the train around the village to see the holiday glow. Tickets sell quickly; reservations recommended (800/648-7275; www.geneseecountyparks.org/pages/Christmas).
Singing Christmas Tree
Muskegon, December 4–6
The Mona Shores High School choir fills the tiers of a 67-foot tall Christmas tree for their annual performance of holiday classics in the Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts. The students, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra, cover a range of music, including African folk songs and traditional Christmas carols (231/780-4711; www.monashoressingingchristmastree.com).
Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend
Manistee, December 4–7
Horse-drawn sleighs glide past shopkeepers and carolers in period garb, welcoming visitors to the Victorian Era. The Ramsdell Theatre stages a production of Miracle on 34th Street and the Babcock House Museum, a grand Victorian mansion, and the Historic Buckley Home open their doors for tours. Lines form early on Saturday for the 9 a.m. arts-and-craft show with 100-plus vendors. Excitement builds for the parade in which Belgian horses pull two 30-foot Christmas trees to the official tree lighting downtown (231/398-9355; www.visitmanisteecounty.com/local-events/sleighbell-festival).
Light Up the Bluff and Live Mannequins
St. Joseph December 5–6
Community members recreate Christmas still lifes in more than 30 downtown storefronts. Electric decorations in Lake Bluff Park reflect off Lake Michigan as the mayor lights the tree and the St. Joseph High School Choir sings carols. Kids ride the carousel and adults peruse the shops. On Saturday, close to 200 reindogs—canines costumed as reindeer—lead Santa into town (269/985-1111; www.stjoetoday.com).
Christmas in Ida
The small town’s holiday festival began as an indoor craft show, but has since expanded to a weekend of family fun. Enjoy a hot dog lunch with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves; visit a Christmas-themed petting zoo; and watch 130 floats in the parade of lights. The craft show is still part of the annual celebration and now includes more than 200 vendors. Additional adult events include ice sculpting, live music and a new merchandise auction (734/269-6017; www.christmasinida.com).
Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village
Dearborn, December 5–7, 12–14, 18–23, 26–27
Lanterns light the streets, the aroma of roasting chestnuts wafts through the air and carolers fill the village with music in this historic Christmas wonderland. Horse-drawn wagons and Model T cars take visitors to costumed presenters, ice-skating and Santa and his reindeer. A fireworks display caps off the evening (800/835-5237; www.thehenryford.org).
65th Annual Tip-Up Town USA
Houghton Lake, January 16–18, 23–25
Chill out at the state’s largest winter festival, beginning with a medallion hunt for cold cash. The search for buried treasure ($300) starts when the first clue is given on the Thursday before opening weekend. Purchase a $7 badge (required for site entry and all events) for frozen fun, including an ice fishing contest, snowmobile drag races, a polar dip—tethered participants in costumes jump into a carved hole in the lake for $20—and a kids’ ice slide. Local businesses and community members try their hands at ice sculpting and a fireworks display fills the sky (989/366-5644; www.houghtonlakechamber.net/events/tip-up-town-usa).
North American International Auto Show
Detroit, January 17–25
The world’s most innovative automobiles—more than 500 models and 50 prototypes and concept cars—make their debut in Motor City. Industry leaders give presentations on eco-friendly energy and vehicle manufacturing. Tickets are limited, and can be purchased online, in advance or at the door (248/643-0250; www.naias.com).
Frankenmuth, January 21–26
Artists shape snow in high school, state and national competitions; pick your favorite for the people’s choice award. Ice sculptors carve figures from 400-pound blocks for the collegiate championships. Observers can take a break in the warming tent where live entertainment, food and Michigan’s Best Apple Recipe contest continues the competitive spirit (800/652-0434; www.zehnders.com).
Grand Haven, January 22–25
Family-friendly games such as human dogsled and cardboard sled races welcome all members. Four-legged friends join the fun in the Family Dog Pull and hamster/gerbil races. At night the festival heats up with live entertainment, beverages and a best-dressed contest at the luau (616/296-0823; www.winterfestmi.org).
International 500 Snowmobile Race
Sault Ste. Marie, February 2–7
Professional snowmobilers top out at 100 mph zipping around a 1-mile track in the world’s largest snowmobile race. Drivers meet with fans between time trials and the 500-lap finale. Entertainment outside of the race includes a beauty pageant, kiddy race and vintage sled show (989/808-5266; www.i-500.com).
Houghton, February 4–7
Enormous snowscapes dot the campus during Michigan Technological University’s cold-weather festival. The big event is an all-night student snow-sculpting competition beginning on Wednesday night. Co-eds compete in other contests like skating relay races, ice bowling, broomball, and a beard-growing contest (male students toss out their razors two months prior to the event). School organizations create and perform skits in the “Stage Revue;” audience members score the productions, as do the judges, to decide the winner (906/487-2818; www.mtu.edu/carnival).
North American Snow Festival
Cadillac, February 5–8
Warm up the weekend with a chili cook-off and hot-dog-eating contest before icy events like the polar dip, fun run, fishing contest and snowmobile races. A pageant and antique snowmobile show let visitors relax before Saturday night’s lighted snowmobile parade around Lake Cadillac. Purchase a $5 button for a chance to win up to $3,000 in cash prizes (800/225-2537; www.cadillacmichigan.com).
White Pine Stampede
Mancelona, February 7
Cross country skiers race from Mancelona to Bellaire’s Shanty Creek Resorts in a 50K, 20K and a non-competitive 10K. A portion of each entry fee and voluntary gifts are donated to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation (231/587-8812; www.whitepinestampede.org).
Hessel and Cedarville, February 12–15
These Les Cheneaux villages draw crowds for ice-fishing contests (coinciding with Michigan’s free fishing weekend), snow sculptures, kids’ games, cardboard sled races and more. Take a horse-drawn hayrack ride, watch the dog show and view the sky lantern launch over the marina at Hessel Bay (888/364-7526; www.lescheneaux.net/?snowsfest).
The UP 200 and Midnight Run and Jack Pine 30
Marquette, February 12–16
Mushers lead their 10 sled dogs to Grand Marais and back to qualify for the Iditarod. The shorter Midnight Run begins Friday night and finishes Saturday morning. The Jack Pine 30 on Saturday also takes a shorter route. Find a checkpoint along the 240-mile stretch of the UP 200 to watch the race. Viewing areas are open for the shorter races, too (906/228-3072; www.up200.org).
Pine Mountain Continental Ski Jumping Tournament
Iron Mountain, February 20–22
More than 20,000 fans set up camps with coolers and grills and tailgate at the bottom of the hill where internationally known ski jumpers compete. They’re vying to break the U.S. Ski Jump record—set at this tournament—of 471 feet (800/236-2447; www.kiwanisskiclub.com).
For More Information, Contact:
Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau (231/775-0657 or 800/225-2537; www.cadillacmichigan.com).
Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (313/202-1800 or 800/338-7648; www.visitdetroit.com).
Flint and Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau (855/983-5468; www.flintandgenesee.org).
Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau (989/652-6106 or 800/386-8696; www.frankenmuth.org).
Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (616/842-4499 or 800/303-4092; www.visitgrandhaven.com).
Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (517/487-0077 or 888/252-6746; www.lansing.org).
Houghton Lake Area Tourism and Convention Bureau (989/422-2002 or 800/676-5330; www.visithoughtonlake.com).
Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau (906/337-4579 or 800/338-7982; www.keweenaw.info).
Manistee County Visitors Bureau (231/398-9355 or 877/626-4783; www.visitmanisteecounty.com).
Marquette County Convention & Visitor Bureau (906/228-7749 or 800/544-4321; www.travelmarquettemichigan.com).
Monroe County Convention & Tourism Bureau (800/252-3011; www.monroeinfo.com).
Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau (231/724-3100 or 800/250-9283; www.visitmuskegon.org).
Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau (906/632-3366 or 800/647-2858; www.saultstemarie.com).
Shiawassee County Convention & Visitors Bureau (989/723-1199; www.shiawassee.org).
Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council (269/925-6301; www.swmichigan.org).
Tourism Association of Dickinson County (800/236-2447; www.ironmountain.org).
Traverse City Tourism (231/947-1120 or 800/872-8377; www.traversecity.com).